A Travellerspoint blog

Home at Last

Sunday, 15 April 2012

We sailed into Sydney right on time and made it ashore in the first half dozen. Jenny was selected to have a full and detailed AQIS inspection and fortunately passed. Being early, there were no delays in being allocated a taxi and we made it to the bus booking office with lots of time to spare. There were a number of other cruise ship passengers checking in but we had no trouble buying our tickets there were spare seats. One of the others had prepaid for the afternoon bus but were unable to have the booking transferred as it required head-office involvement and this was a Sunday so they paid for tickets and hope to reclaim the unused ones.
The bus pulled out at 0915 and made good time to Woolongong. We arrived about 10 minutes early and the driver allowed us off for a quick stretch. Ten minutes later we're all aboard and he heads off. Shortly after we hit the highway, the driver receives a phone call, one of the passengers was still in Woolongong. The driver managed to find an exit and we headed North again. He was not happy and made sure the errant passenger was aware of it. After that we had a largely uneventful trip back to Moruya and with a stop for lunch in Nowra and another in Batemans Bay we were in Moruya at 1605.
We contacted Michael along the way and he turned up to pick us up from the bus-stop. Lots of things to be re-established and switched on and unpacking to be done. It will no doubt take a week or so to clear all the backlogs.
Great time away but good to be home.

Posted by greynomadm 00:28 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

South to Sydney

Saturday, 14 April 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

The sun-rise this morning was again unremarkable as there were dark clouds along the Eastern horizon. On checking in with Paul I discovered we were only just South of the Gold Coast despite being under way for almost 12 hours. It transpires that part way through the passage out of Morton Bay the ship went about and sailed back towards Brisbane to disembark a medical emergency. We were met by a shore-based launch, evacuated the passenger and then went about again to pick up where we'd left off.
At the time we were making good time, sailing at 18 knots. There is a distinct possibility that we'll be late arriving in Sydney. Breakfast was followed by William Roberts' lecture where he presented the various strategic errors made by both sides and how these influenced the outcome of the war.
Nothing of specific interest before lunch so I packed the bulk of my bag, there seems to be significantly more gear than when we packed in Moruya. Up to the Horizon Court for the display of the pastry cook's endeavours; cakes and sweet creations of every description in a rainbow of colours. Just amazing what these talented people produce.
After lunch we went to the Theatre where the entertainment 'crew' explained what they do and we were shown the 'dressing rooms' in the wings of the stage. It must be absolute chaos there during a production number.
Back to the cabin to complete the packing and sorting of gear and checking of drawers. Jenny is off to attend a lecture by Trevor Knight while I complete this penultimate blog entry. Turns out that Trevor has a sore throat so his talk was called off. By about 1700 we're all sorted out and the luggage is parked outside for collection.
Off to the dinning room for our 'last supper'. Top meal again and culminated with the Baked Alaska Parade by the waiters. Lights were turned off so the camera didn't capture a lot of it.
Off to the final show featuring a trio of operatic singers called Encore, two sisters and a good looking young bloke. They sang some beautiful songs and received a standing ovation, one of the best shows on the trip.
My final blog from the beautiful Sea Princess. When we berth in Sydney tomorrow we will have sailed a total of 8601 Nautical Miles (1 NM = 1.85 Km).

Posted by greynomadm 04:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Port Day in Brisbane

Friday, 13 April 2012

View 2012 Cherry Blossom on greynomadm's travel map.

Up at 0500 in anticipation of a 0604 sunrise, not very spectacular but did ensure that we sat with Paul as he plotted our course. Our arrival in Brisbane was delayed by the high seas and strong head-wind during the night. The approach is quite convoluted with a number of significant changes of direction as we crossed Morton Bay and found the entrance to the Brisbane River. There isn't a spectacular harbour just a long line of wharfs on both sides of the river. We arrived at a well-established terminal building in the suburb of Hamilton.
Breakfast out of the way we proceeded ashore after we were instructed to stand in a line with our toes on a tape whilst an AQIS dog walked up and down the line. Normally they just mingle amongst the departing passengers. A "Translink" map in hand we walked the 10 to 15 minutes to the CityCat Bretts wharf. A two-hour ticket for us senior citizens was $2.60 and we enjoyed a quick and efficient ride along the river to the Riverside wharf where we boarded the free City Loop Bus to the shopping mecca of the Queen Street Mall.
The CBD of Brisbane retains a light, relaxed and friendly air and was filled with lots of activity and assorted crowd-stopping attractions. Jenny was on a mission and whilst enquiries at many stores produced no sale she was very appreciative of the efforts made by staff to direct her to alternate locations. She did eventually track down what she was after and we then strolled back to the ferry wharf.
The "Cat" was less crowded on the way back and we were able to appreciate the very fine properties and their private mooring pontoons along the river. Some serious money spent there and no remaining evidence of the flood damage.
We were back aboard by 1430 and had a bite at the Horizon Court Buffet. Paul joined us and he was procrastinating as to whether he should go out again and visit the CBD. I suggested an extensive slide-show of the 4000 plus pictures on my computer. I think that prospect made up his mind and he scooted off to town.
Went down to the cabin with every intention of writing this blog, got as far as establishing the file then sat on the bed to take off my shoes and woke up about two hours later. Must have been the early morning activities and long shopping day.
A most enjoyable dinner again which was brought to a rowdy conclusion when we clapped and cheered for the Chef's Parade. The entire kitchen staff wound their way in and out of the tables. Great tribute to them.
Lined up outside the Vista Lounge for the evening entertainment and for half an hour before the show started we were entertained by the Sea Princess Orchestra. I'm not sure that I've mentioned before, just how very talented they are, I could have listened to them all night.
The Showtime act was Trevor Knight who played and chatted his way though 45 minutes in a most relaxed and pleasant fashion.
At this stage we don't know when we'll arrive in Sydney and whether we'll be in time to catch the bus home. If we're held up or there are no available seats we'll book into a hotel for the night.

Posted by greynomadm 22:20 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Off the Queensland Coast

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A lively start to the morning with the ship heading into a strong Southerly wind and rising seas. Less than 24 hours to Brisbane when over 200 passengers will leave the ship.
The main pool has been emptied as the ship's motion was creating tsunami style waves which were blown all over the deck. Jenny is trying to write a note and her normally pristine script has a few wobbles in it.
Activities aboard are on the decline as the cruise comes to an end. There are a number of people I've spoken to who felt that the last two weeks were just too long. My own take on the cruise is that the first two weeks were full of new things aboard the ship and people were quite busy. The next two weeks were busy because of our almost consecutive port days. The final two weeks were almost boring with only three port days and people are starting to think of all the tasks facing them on the home front. I believe an academic study of the optimum cruise length should be undertaken, I would be prepared to conduct such a study !!
Another possible study would be to compare the weight gain of cattle in a feed-lot relative to passengers on a cruise ship. These ships are just floating feed-lots for humans !!
First up this morning was the Culinary Demonstration in the Vista Lounge, the Executive Chef and the Maitre d'Hotel cooked up two dishes and then the Pastry Chef knocked up a desert. After the demonstration we were invited to walk through the galley. Miles and miles of stainless steel.
Just before lunch I attended a lecture by Trevor Knight on the 'Wisdom of Horses'. He had a number of interesting stories that demonstrated the loving bond between horses and man. He has been a keen and successful Endurance Rider and horse breeder. Very entertaining and informative.
Nothing specific after lunch, Jenny went off to see the Princess Pop Choir, she also saw the Line Dance Review. Just as she was returning from the Vista Lounge I was invited by Heather and Bret to join them for afternoon tea. We showed off our special pictures and even had one of the staff leaning over to watch.
Handed our 'gratuity' to Rex and Jeffrey and enjoyed another excellent evening meal. Jeffrey managed to dress up a tapioca pudding to an attractive desert which didn't taste too bad either.
Tonight we attended a show by comedienne "Maggie" in the Vista Lounge. She sang, not too badly, she danced, like Dame Edna and tried very hard to be funny. We sat through it in the forlorn hope that she'd get better.
We're about 10 hours out of Brisbane and the seas are getting quite rough. The ship is moving quite a bit but it isn't particularly unpleasant. I feel the ship rocking me to sleep as I type this.

Posted by greynomadm 21:14 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Crossing the Coral Sea

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Another unremarkable start to a sea day with a strong breeze and slight seas - you could actually feel the ship moving.
The first lecture was by Alun Thompson one of the Third Officers who gave an extensive explanation of the many aspects of the Deck Department. In particular he stressed the fact that all essential items are duplicated and depending on traffic there could be up to six or seven people on the bridge with all aspects of navigation being double checked. When asked he avoided comment on the Costa Concordia accident except to say that the extent of the damage went beyond what the ship was designed to survive.
Jenny organised a "Thank You" envelope for the couple who have conducted the craft sessions that she's attended every sea day.
Lindsay delivered her usual slick port lecture covering many aspects of Brisbane and the surrounding tourist destinations.
After lunch I returned to the Princess Theatre for the matinée movie "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" a very involved plot with frequent back flashes and occasional foreign language sections making it very difficult to follow. I'm glad I didn't pay to see it.
Maddie and Hennie have invited us to a get together in the Premier Cru Bar. They had invited about a dozen of the people who had made a difference to their cruise, drinks and nibbles organised by them.
The last formal night and lobster tails were on the menu, I chose to order roast pheasant instead. Jeffrey concocted another "Special" desert, he enjoys himself far too much. After dinner there was a Captain's Farewell Cocktail Party in the atrium area, not a lot of room with most of the 2000 passengers crowded into that space.
Received our disembarkation instructions and we were allocated an 0830 assembly time, fortunately I was able to have that brought forward to an 0730 time slot. The times are when we meet, there is no indication as to when we get off.
No show for us tonight, neither do much for either of us.

Posted by greynomadm 21:14 Comments (2)

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